Skip Navigation
  Robinson Home  |  Contact Us  |  Find It  |  BrowseAloud  |  Translate  |  WPS Home  
This table is used for column layout.
Recess Club for site
Recess Club   52010_120010_0.png

Recess Club was developed to help our first grade students learn and strengthen their friendship and social skills.  It grew out of staff discussions of how best to meet student social needs, especially those with social skill challenges.  Our staff wanted a program that would foster positive, age appropriate social skills and that would facilitate the transfer of skills beyond the classroom lessons.  The staff also wanted a program that would support Robinson's core values, the I-Care Rules, and the Peace-It-Together Program.  

Currently, Recess Club is conducted in all first grade classrooms.  It is co-lead by the guidance counselor, special needs teacher and/or the speech and language therapist in weekly half hour lessons October through May.  The lesson format begins with a review of the previous week's lesson, a new skill introduction and ending with recess.  There are four basic units to the curriculum:  Greeting, Conversation, Playing an Activity, and Playing Fair all of which are listed in the lesson sequence below.  Students complete a self-assessment at the beginning of each unit and are asked to select one skill on which they would like to work.  The self-assessment is revisited at the end of each unit to see if there has been an improvement in the particular skill chosen.

Recess Club utilizes books, role-playing, modeling skills, videos and games as teaching tools. Parent newsletters are sent home monthly describing the skills currently being taught and providing parents a common language to use with their child. Because practice in the natural setting is so beneficial, children are instructed to practice these skills at recess and throughout the school day.  Use of these skills will be set as a class goal for the intervening days. Adults try to catch students demonstrating the skill of the week, acknowledging it with praise and/or a Kids Who Care coupon.

The benefits of this program are many.  Recess Club supports a common language, used by students, staff and parents, which facilitates learning, especially for those students with social challenges, and social problem solving.  It also assists with the transfer of social skills from the classroom to the whole school and home while supporting the development of a caring, peaceful community.  Finally, the program contributes to a decrease in disciplinary incidents.

52010_120734_14.pngRecess Club Instructional Language

Instructional language
Social Detective*
A person who uses their social smarts to figure out what is going on around them and decide what to do next.
Expected Behavior
How you are expected to behave in social settings based on whom you are with and where you are.  These behaviors make others have comfortable thoughts and feelings.
Unexpected Behavior
When people don't follow social expectations, i.e., call talk off topic, call names, cheat at a game,etc. These behaviors make others have uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
Social Detective Tools
Eyes, Ears, Brain, Body, Heart, Hands and Feet
Zones of Regulation
A curriculum for teaching self-regulation skills.  (See attached chart.)
Blue Zone

My body/engine running low.  Examples of Blue Zone feelings are sad, sick, bored & tired.
Green Zone

My body/engine is ready to work and play.  Examples of Green Zone feelings are okay, happy, calm & focused
Yellow Zone

My body/engine is beginning to run high.  Examples of Yellow Zone feelings are frustrated, worried, annoyed, silly & excited.
Red Zone

My body/engine is running very high and I may lose control.  Examples of Red Zone feelings are very angry, mean, afraid & out of control.
Thinking with your eyes
Using your eyes to figure out what non-verbal messages others are sending, as well as what they might be thinking.
Whole Body Listening
The whole body (eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, and brain) needs to be focused on others in order to show you are listening.
Brain in the Group
When you are paying attention to what is happening in the group, when you are thinking about what others are saying and doing.
Smart Guess
An educated guess, based on information you gather by thinking with your eyes, that makes others have good thoughts about you.  
Wacky Guess
A random or tangential guess, without having any information about the other person, that makes others have uncomfortable thoughts about you.
Accepting Differences
We all have strengths.  We all have things that are difficult for us.  I can try my best.

Greeting and Conversation
Personal Space

Individual's space needs for comfort
Eye Contact

Looking the other person in the eye for minimum of 3 seconds
Getting Otherís Attention
Verbally (i.e. saying hello or saying the personís name).  Non-verbally (i.e. gently tapping person on shoulder)
Not too loud & not too soft; kind and friendly tone; I Care language.

Staying on Topic
Responding to what the speaker has said-listen, wait your turn and talk about the same topic.
Reciprocal Turn taking
Look at the speaker & listen to the speaker, then talk (answer).  Avoid our word bumping together, by listening and not interrupting.
Changing the Topic
His turn:  look, listen, stay on topic/answer. Wait for a pause. My turn: look talk about my topic & listen.
Playing an Activity
Walk up to the person, get their attention, make eye contact and ask if the other person wants to play use appropriate volume, tone and words.
What to do if someone says, “No.”
Say, “Ok, maybe the next time.” And ask someone else
Establishing and agreeing on the rules
Listen, share your ideas, decide and play.
Renegotiating the rules if they change
Talk it out: listen, share your ideas and choose a solution (i.e. make a deal, go to another game, etc.) and play.
Joining in
Wait for a pause, say something about what the children are doing and ask, “May I play?” or “May I join the game?”
When and how to say “No.”

Think about the reason for saying “No.”
Say “No” in a caring way and give the reason.
(See additional information on page 2)
Playing Fair
Being a good sport
Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.
When I win
It is OK to be happy.  Say something nice about the other team's playing or effort, i.e. “Nice game.”  “Good goal.”  
When I lose
I think, “Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.“
I stay calm and say, “Good game.”
Excitement vs. bragging
Excitement - When I'm excited, Iím happy about winning, but still am considerate of the other person's feelings.  Bragging - When I brag, I feel good and the loser feels bad.  I donít pay attention to how the other person feels.

**It is not OK to say “No” when:
  • You have made a promise such as I'll sit with you at lunch; I'll play with you at recess or I'll sit with you on the bus.
  • The request is your responsibility.
It is OK to say “No” when:
  • You are asked to do something dangerous or destructive (Double D).
  • Someone invites you to engage in mean behaviors such as name calling, taking someone's hat or excluding.
Sometimes it is OK to say “No” when:
  • You want to be alone, don't want to lend a treasured item, don't want to play a certain game, are busy or don't feel like it unless it is a responsibility or something you agreed to do.  
  • It is not OK to make “No” a habit to hurt or exclude someone.

* You are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner,

52010_120757_15.pngSample Lesson

Theme:  Playing an activity            

Concepts:  Turn taking and choosing who goes first  (Playing Fair)

Grade Level:  Grade 1

Primary Outcome: Students will understand and use strategies for deciding who goes first or who chooses a game/activity.

Materials Needed:  The Who Goes First Wheel, coins, dice, newsprint and marker


Introduction   Last week we took a look at our self-assessments and decided whether I'm getting better at or I've really improved at the greeting and conversation skills that we have learned to date.  This week we are going to review and learn strategies for deciding who chooses or goes first.  Point out to students that four of these strategies were taught in kindergarten.  

Lesson:  Choosing and taking turns - Explain to students that we will be learning strategies to decide who chooses or goes first.  Discuss with students why it is important to play fair.  Why is it important to play fair?  How do others feel when we play fair?  How do others feel when we when one person chooses and decides?  Do you have any strategies for deciding who goes first? Record these on newsprint.

Introduce the Who Goes First Wheel.  Adults describe and model each of the strategies (flip a coin; rock, paper, scissors; roll the dice, one potato, two potatoes...; alphabetical order; and odds and evens).  

Pair students with someone at their table to practice each of the strategies.

Practice:  Instruct students to practice these strategies during snack recess and the next week. Let students know the adults will be trying to catch students using these skills.

Recess Club Resources


Andreae, Giles and Guy Parker-Rees. Giraffes Can't Dance. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2002.

Bourgeois, Paulette and Brenda Clark. Franklin's Secret Club. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1998.

Brown, Tricia. Someone Special, Just Like You. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1982.

Carlson, Nancy. How to Lose All Your Friends. New York: Puffin Books, 1997.

Cook, Julia.  My Mouth is a Volcano. Warrenton, VA: CTC Publishing, 2005

Cummings, Carol. Sticks & Stones. Edmonds, WA: Teaching, Inc., 1992.

deGroat, Diane. No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teacher's Dirty Looks!. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.

DeVos, Janie. Barthello's Wing: A Tale of a Very Brave Bug. Huntington, NY: East End Publishing, Ltd., 2006.

Hamm, Mia. Winners Never Quit. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

Heine, Helme. Friends. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1982.

Henkes, Kevin. Chester's Way. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988.

Jones, Carol.  The Hare and the Tortise.  New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Lester, Helen. Hooway for Wodney Wat. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

Petty, Kate. Feeling Left Out. Hauppauge, NY: Aladdin Books, Ltd., 1991.

Petty, Kate. Playing the Game. Hauppauge, NY: Aladdin Books, Ltd., 1991.

Piper, Watty.  The Little Engine That Could. New York: Platt and Monk, 1991.

Shally, Celeste and David Harrington. Since We're Friends: An Autism Picture Book. Centerton, AR: Awaken Specialty Press, 2007.

Stanley, Diane. The Conversation Club. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990.

Thomas, Pat. Don't Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability. Hauppauge, NY: Barronís Educational Series, Inc., 2002.


Model Me Kids: I Can Do It!.  Model Me Kids, 2005.

Model Me Kids: Time for a Playdate. Model Me Kids, 2005.

Model Me Kids: Time for School. Model Me Kids, 2005.

Accepting Our Differences.  Sunburst Visual Media, 2004.

What Parents Can Do

Remember discipline means to teach.  Events in our children's lives are teachable moments, a time to teach our values, problem solving skills, the choices that we would like them to make and much more. This is true whether your child has been the child targeted, the bystander or the child engaging in a hurtful behavior.

Examine your expectations: Are they consistent with developmentally normal expectations for 5 - 7 year olds? It is important to understand your child's temperament and social style. Some children have one or two best friends while others enjoy having a variety of friends. It's important to recognize and accept that your child may have a social style and needs that differ from your own. The goal is for each of us to be comfortable and genuinely satisfied with our own social group and style.

Teach children friendship skills and how to problem solve:
  • Review and practice the use of the Solution Wheel and Who Goes First Wheel.  
  • Use the Social Replay and the Talk About It form to coach children when social problems occur.
  • Listen and validate your child's feelings and experiences.
  • Model friendship skills and resolving conflicts in peaceful ways.
  • Think outloud about a problem in your life while your child is within earshot.  For example, "I was really upset when Mrs. Brown didn't listen to me. I felt so mad that I thought I would scream or cry. I guess that I better cool down before I try to talk to her about it. I think I'll take a walk."
  • Role-play how to handle situations that might arise for elementary age children. Practice what to say and do and discuss what not to say and do.
  • Share your childhood stories as a learning tool.
  • Read stories about friendship, feelings, problem solving, socially cruel behavior, shyness, etc. Reading aloud with children is a great way to teach skills as well as open up discussion about their problems, worries and concerns. Check out the guidance website at
Assist children with building and strengthening friendships:
  • Teach games and reinforce the game of the month
  • Arrange play dates and provide opportunities for socialization outside of school. Some children need to be taught how to arrange a play date as well as coached and supported as they become confident in this new skill.
  • Encourage and praise prosocial behaviors. Catch your child acting in a friendly manner and reinforce it. Also, remember to compliment your childís efforts to use positive social behaviors.  
  • Get children involved in clubs, scouts, etc. where they will interact with children who share a common interest.
  • Help your children recognize their strengths and weaknesses and feel good about who they are.
Teach kindness and empathy:
  • Create opportunities to do good at home, school in the community.
  • Help children to learn to stand in otherís shoes (Think about what would it feel like if you were the other person or think of a time you had a similar experience).
  • Be a good role model.
Review and practice speaking up and asking for adult help:
  • When your child is having a problem (i.e. excluding, teasing, name calling, etc.) or witnessing someone else is being picked on repeatedly, instruct him or her to find a trusted adult and say:
  • I'm having a problem.
  • I've said stop/no and did solutions a and b.
  • I need some help.
  • If the adult doesn't help, tell another adult.
If your child runs into social difficulty:
  • Be empathic and reflective, "sounds like.....
  • Normalize the problem by sharing a story from your childhood and your solutions. This not only helps a child to feel supported and less alone, it can provide concrete strategies for solving friendship problems.  
  • Replay the problem situation with your child using our social replay model.

For more information on these topics as well as shyness, social cruelty, teasing & bullying and grief & loss go to the Guidance webpage  Also check out Richard Lavoie's "Dos  & Don'ts" for Fostering Social Competence, and Social Competence and the Child with Learning Disabilities,

(Summary from a Richard Lavoie workshop)

Children with social challenges view their home as their refuge.  It may be the only place your child feels safe.  He/she may not understand how to host a guest and feel that ìIím in charge and gets to make all the decisions.  Adult need to teach children how to be a host.

Guidelines for a playdate:

  • Prepare for the play dates
  • Your child is the host so prepare him or her.  (Meet the guest at the door, introduction to other family members, etc.)
  • Establish house rules and discuss them with your child.
  • Put special toys and belongings away to avoid skirmishes.
  • With young children have duplicate toys so there are fewer conflicts (i.e. two trucks, balls, etc.).
  • First few dates should be in a neutral place like a park.
  • Invite only one child.  Itís OK to invite someone of a different age. A couple of years different are OK.
  • No siblings otherwise the sibling may become the more attractive playmate.
  • Begin with a structured activity
  • Provide a snack
  • Remember the last 15 mins. are what most children remember, so make them fun.  Might end with a snack or video.
  • Have a post playdate discussion.
  • What was good?  
  • What problems occurred?  
  • What would you do differently?
Have several playmates at your home before your child is a guest at someoneís house.


This is a model that can be used to guide your child as she or he tries to solve a social problem.  Parentís role is that of facilitator rather than problem solver.  The goal is to foster developmentally appropriate independent problem-solving skills in our children.

Talking with the child:  Empathize with the child's feelings.  Share: "I wasn't present when the problem happened, so I don't know what occurred.  Let's pretend that we had a movie camera and took a movie of the problem happening."
"What would I see?"
"What would I hear?"
"What did you do?"  
"What did the other person (people) do? "
"How did you feel? "
"How did the other person (people) feel?"
"Which I-Care Rule was broken?"
Once you have a picture of the problem, you've identify what when wrong (i.e. misunderstanding, not asking to join the game, change in game rules, etc.) and the child has calmed down, summarize what you understand the problem to be.  

Next facilitate the child coming to an agreement about what they will do or could do differently by Playing It Forward.  Ask him or her to: "Pretend that we are playing the movie forward to tomorrow or next time the problem might occurs." Ask the child: "What would you say or do differently?"  "What could you do to solve or prevent the problem from happening again?"  The "Solution Wheel" is a useful tool for this discussion. Assist them in identifying what theyíre willing to do to make things OK with the other children involved.

Once a child has chosen one or two solutions you may choose to write a contract, rehearse using the solution or make a verbal agreement that he or she will use the identified solution(s) to solve the problem in the future. Instruct the child to put it into action.  Sometimes it helps to establish a date to check in and see how the children are doing.  If the solution worked, applaud their success.  If not, remind the child: ìWorking out a problem can take time.  Sometimes it takes 2 - 3 tries before we find a successful solution.î

Facilitating a meeting with two or more children:  Set the ground rules for the discussion.  
"Each person gets a chance to talk about their picture of the problem and their feelings without interruption. It is important for everyone to be honest." Should a child feel that another child is lying explain that when a problem occurs we often remember it differently because of our strong feelings.  Use the steps above to facilitate a discussion and resolution.  The CAPS conflict resolution model is also useful.  Additional information on this model and problem solving are available on the Robinson Guidance webpage:

* To assist students with their problems the Robinson staff also used this model.  Many professional, such as Rick Lavoie who wrote Itís So Much Work to be Your Friend, have similar models.

Col. John Robinson School    60 Concord Road, Westford, MA 01886    Tel: (978) 692-5586    Fax: (978) 589-0968

Westford Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or homelessness.